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Jewish Congress Scores Austria’s Behavior on Claims Talks

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The American Jewish Congress today charged that “Austria’s behavior in the conduct of the negotiations for the settlement of the claims of Jewish victims of Nazi persecution had raised grave doubts as to whether the present Austrian Government had the moral capacity to qualify it for equality in the family of free nations.” The charge was contained in a resolution adopted by the organization’s National Administrative Committee which concluded its two-day quarterly session here.

The resolution called on the American Government “to exercise its good offices for an honorable and reasonable settlement of the Jewish claims.” The original demands of the Jewish organizations, the resolution asserted, “had been a meagre fraction of what they could justifiably claim for their staggering losses, and they had been prepared to accept a fraction of those demands in settlement. The conduct of the negotiations by the Austrian Government,” the resolution stated, “has been petty, dilatory and disingenuous.”

The resolution challenged the Austrian contention that the Austrian people bear no responsibility for what had happened to Austria’s Jews under the Nazis. “Austria’s moral and legal responsibility to the victims of Nazi persecution is clear beyond peradventure of doubt,” the American Jewish Congress statement asserted. “The Anschluss was greeted enthusiastically by the overwhelming majority of the Austrian people, and Austrian officials implemented Nazi decrees with zeal and dispatch, Moreover, many Austrians profited directly from the spoliation of Jewish property which they have never disgorged.”

The AJC statement also expressed skepticism over Austria’s plea of its financial inability to meet the Jewish claims. This plea, the resolution declared, has been refuted by Chancellor Raab’s own statements in this country about the great strides toward prosperity which the Austrian economy has taken in recent years.

“What renders the Austrian Government’s conduct throughout the negotiations particularly reprehensible,” the resolution continued, “is the fact that while pursuing its ungenerous policy toward the claims of Jewish victims, it has persistently sought to enact measures that would benefit persons convicted of crimes against humanity and of direct complicity in the Nazi atrocities,” These measures have been vetoed by the Allied Control Commission after passing the Austrian Parliament.

Another resolution adopted at the meeting urged the incoming eighty-fourth Congress to initiate public hearings for revision of the McCarran-Walter Immigration Law, which it termed “one of the most dishonoring and dishonorable pieces of legislation ever placed on our statute books.”

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